A state arbitrator has awarded Clarkstown police officers a two-year package of raises that hikes salaries by 3.4 percent for 2009 and 3.4 percent for 2010.
The award, distributed to town officials and leaders of the Clarkstown Policemen's Benevolent Association today, clears the way for the two sides to work on a new contract covering 2011 and beyond.
Clarkstown PBA president David Trois said he and members of the union are happy the lengthy arbitration is completed. PBA and town officials have been expecting a decision in the labor dispute for more than nine months.
The PBA contract went to binding arbitration through the state's Public Employee Relations Board after the two sides reached a statelmate in negotiations. The union has sought 5 percent annual raises, while the town was seeking a contract with no raises.
Trois said the award also include a new option for town police officers to place themselves under a spouce's health insurance plan instead of the town's plan if they wish.
"We're grateful the process has ended. The award was long overdue. It was a very lenghty process," said Trois, who noted that PBA members were briefed on the arbitration award today.
Although Town Board members were hoping for lower pay increases in the arbitration award, Trois said the overall negotiation and arbitration process was conducted in a professional manner without any animosity.
Trois noted that throughout the process, town police officers maintained their professionalism and did not let the contract matter affect their work.
Town Board members, who were reviewing the arbitration award today, said they were disappointed by the decision and were concerned it did not reflect the realities of the economy.
The official record for the arbitration process closed last fall. At the time, the most recent police contract award involved the Town of Ramapo, where police officers received 4 percent annual raises. Clarkstown town officials tried to have the official record of the arbitration re-opened to reflect recent police contracts with lower salary increases in Stony Point and Haverstraw.
The bid to re-open the record was rejected by the arbitrator.
Clarkstown has a 159-member police department. The 2010 Clarkstown salaray schedule shows that basic salaries for police officers range from $72,200 to $131,160. Those figures do not include higher-ranking, higher-paid police department supervisors.